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The Effects of Accelerated Reader on Students' Reading Skill

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Melanie Mills

on 11 November 2014

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Transcript of The Effects of Accelerated Reader on Students' Reading Skill

The Effects of Accelerated Reader on Students' Reading Skills & Comprehension
Purpose of Study
The general purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the Accelerated Reader program on the reading skills and comprehension of 60 students in the first through third grades at Lone Jack School Center.
What is Accelerated Reader
The Accelerated Reader program is a computerized reading program designed by Renaissance Learning to increase students’ achievement in reading (Smith & Westberg, 2011). It provides students and teachers with immediate diagnostic feedback on student reading practice through short quizzes. AR facilitates guided reading practice by using feedback from AR quizzes to help students and teachers select books at the appropriate level, monitor comprehension of books read, and guide further reading practice (Putnam, 2005).
The Accelerated Reader program increases reading skills and comprehension of students who participate; thus, producing a positive effect on reading achievement.
To ensure that all primary students had an equal and independent chance of being selected, a simple sample was used, in which 2 X 2 X 2 design was utilized. The first factor is grade level. Classrooms from first through third grades were used. In the control group, there were 16 students; 6 from grade 1, 5 from grade 2, and 5 from grade 3. In the experimental (treatment) group there are 44 students; 14 from grade 1, 18 from grade 2, and 12 from grade 3. A total of 60 students participated in the study overall.

In order to understand further, a study was conducted for one year to produce results that helped determine whether the Accelerated Reader program is a valuable resource that aids in students’ reading achievement at Lone Jack School Center. Although computer-assisted learning is a growing strategy for reading instruction, technology is expensive for schools to adopt. Both administrators and educators at Lone Jack School Center are challenged with the task to provide the best
reading practices for students while prudently spending allocated resources for curriculum implementation. Therefore, the results of this study can help administrators
evaluate whether the Accelerated Reader program is a valid expenditure of the school’s resources.

A Basic Introduction
All of the first through third graders enrolled at Lone Jack School Center take the STAR and MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments at the beginning, middle, and end of the year to measure student growth. The Fall 2013 MAP scores report that 35% of the first grade students are reading on grade level, 57% of the second grade students are on grade level, and 81% of the third grade students are on grade level. The STAR pretest also reveals a correlation between the student achievement with 50% of first grade students reading on grade level, 52% of second grade students are on grade level, and 76% of third grade students are on grade level.
Both the Accelerated Reader and the Non-Accelerated Reader students had exactly the same amount of time allocated for reading instruction. Core reading instruction was delivered to all students during a 90-minute reading block, and an additional 60 minutes of supplemental reading instruction was delivered daily to students, including struggling students, as well as gifted and talented students. 20 minutes of reading homework was assigned to all students every day Monday through Thursday. Students in the treatment (experimental) group had access to books in the school library that are color coded to represent zones of proximal development, where students could read at an appropriate level for their ability. All the students in the study took the Star Reading Test at the beginning of the school year. This test diagnosed the students’ reading levels and designated a zone of proximal development for each student. This zone represents a readability level that is appropriate for the student so that the text matches the student’s skill level and would still allow reading achievement growth.

The experimental students were permitted to check out a new book each time they took an AR quiz; however, the control group was only allowed to check out a book once per week during library classes.When the experimental students finished with a book, they took a computer administered quiz on the book they read, and received immediate feedback on how well they did. Acceptable quiz scores had to be 85% or higher.

Population and Sample
Students were pretested on the STAR Reading test (Renaissance Learning). This is a nationally normed computer-adaptive assessment of a student’s level of reading achievement that takes approximately ten minutes to administer. It’s scores correlate with results on popular nationally normed standardized tests. As students take the assessment, the questions asked adjust to each student’s response pattern. When the test is complete, the STAR provides sixteen measures on the student. For purposes of this research, the STAR test provided an objective measure of each
student’s reading achievement grade equivalent. The STAR assessment was administered again at the end of the study to measure growth in student achievement.

The MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessment was administered at the beginning of the year to receive a baseline RIT and percentile score, ranking students against grade level students within the school and nationally. MAP tests are norm-referenced and present students with engaging, age-appropriate content. As a student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty. The underlying data driving the assessment ensures remarkable accuracy. The equal-interval RIT scale increases the stability, providing grade-independent analysis of a child’s learning. Each week during the study, students were given the MAP Primary Skills Check, which is a practice assessment that can be administered to check student progress between Fall and Winter testing sessions. The assessment is a shortened version of the actual test.

The Accelerated Reader Diagnostic Report will be used during the course of the study to evaluate student performance on reading practice quizzes. The report shows student progress toward goals and identifies potential problems after each quiz is taken. Teachers can use the reports to address the potential problems during the core or supplemental reading instruction.

STAR Reading Assessment
MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Primary Skills Check and Assessments
Accelerated Reader Diagnostic Report
STAR Reading Assessment
MAP Assessment (Measures of Academic Progress
Accelerated Reader Diagnostic Report
Data Collection
In this experimental research study, the data collection method was quantitative, dealing primarily with numbers. Experimental research was chosen as the best type to test the hypothesis because the researcher is testing a cause-and-effect relationship, where the effects of Accelerated Reader might cause an increase in reading comprehension achievement. In this study, the independent variables were participation in the Accelerated Reader program,
exposure to checking out library books, and extrinsic rewards. A point system is established for students to earn rewards for participation in the AR program, both individually and by classrooms. The dependent variable was reading achievement, which includes reading skills and comprehension.
The quiz data was collected by Renaissance Learning’s database and provided students and teachers and/or librarians with immediate diagnostic feedback on student reading practice through short quizzes. Accelerated Reader quizzes and reports were used by the experimental (treatment) group’s teachers for monitoring of adherence to the Accelerated Reader program instructions and ensured student progress toward reading goals and advancement of reading levels. The reports are accessed by the teachers and the librarian from Renaissance Learning’s website,
with an assigned user name and password. The quiz data was analyzed weekly by both the librarian and the teachers.
The STAR pre- and post-tests were also recorded within Renaissance Learning’s database. The librarian administered both the pre- and post-tests in the computer lab; however, the teacher was also present to monitor the validity when the assessment was given. The STAR test was given at the beginning of the study and again at the end. The selection of the Pretest-Post-test Equivalent-Group design allows the researcher to compare the gain scores of both the treatment and control groups and to test the significance of any differences between the means. The gain score was computed based on the reading range increase from the pretest to the post-test.
The Fall MAP assessment was given in August. The assessment was administered by the librarian with the assistance of instructional aides and teachers. It was given in the computer lab. The MAP assessment provides the researcher with baseline RIT and percentile scores, providing a comparison of students in each grade level. MAP data is reported by NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) within 24 hours of test completion. Administrators, teachers, and librarians can access the data on NWEA’s website (www.nwea.org) with an assigned user name and password. The data was analyzed immediately upon completion of the MAP assessment. After analyzing the data, teachers use the data to do curriculum planning based on the students’ survey with goals results. Every week, teachers administered a Primary Skills Test to check student progress. This data was used to measure student growth and becomes the unit of analysis for the Winter MAP assessment in December. In order to conduct a more comprehensive study, the study used the Primary Skills Checks to measure student growth from mid-September to early-April. Gain scores in both RIT scales and percentiles for the treatment and control groups reported the effect Accelerated Reader had on the reading comprehension of first, second, and third grade students.
Results of Study
Melanie Mills

Results from this study show that students’ participation in the Accelerated Reader program does enhance their reading skills and comprehension; thus, supporting the hypothesis.

The results presented here strongly suggest that participation in the Accelerated Reader program improves students’ reading skills and comprehension or has a positive effect on student achievement. Over the course of one year, the addition of the Accelerated Reader program to the core and supplemental reading programs already in place in the first, second, and third grade classrooms at Lone Jack School Center reflected a significant increase in reading achievement growth when comparing pretest and post-test scores. It should be noted that students who did not participate in the Accelerated Reader program did not show a significant increase in reading achievement when comparing the pretest and post-test. There are a number of reasons that might explain why the Accelerated Reader students showed improvement. There is evidence that providing access to books results in more reading and better reading (Krashen, 2003). Those students who were participating in the AR program were reading, taking quizzes, and circulating books in and out of the library on a consistent basis. As a result, they were selecting books appropriate for their individual reading ranges. Incentives could also have played a role in promoting students to participate in the program. Students
participating in the AR program and meeting individual goals defined by Renaissance Learning were awarded prizes.

Questions Developed Based on Research
1. How seriously do students take the MAP assessment?
2. Are the reading passages on the assessment a true measure
of student performance?
3. Do incentives promote additional reading in the long-term?
Future Studies
In what areas are the poor comprehension students efficient? Once students have been identified, maybe there could be skills and drills developed, along with the AR program to improve reading comprehension.

A correlation study could be done on the number of points accumulated on the AR program by individual students versus their reading comprehension on MAP.
A third study could be done comparing the type of memory skills needed to take an AR test and standardized assessment.
Gain Scores
LIB 699
December 5, 2014
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